'This Is Us' : Chrissy Metz Breaks Down the Pearson Family Meeting — and What Part Made Her 'Pissed'

"As much as we needed our parents, they need us as they age. There's something so tender and human and real about that," Chrissy Metz tells PEOPLE of Rebecca's health decline

Chrissy Metz as Kate on This Is Us
Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson. Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Warning: This article contains spoilers from Tuesday's episode of This Is Us.

Things are getting serious for the Pearsons on This Is Us.

Tuesday's episode of the NBC series, titled "Family Meeting," followed the Big Three — Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) — as they dealt with the aftermath of Miguel's (Jon Huertas) death. In particular, the siblings were focused on the care for their mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore), whose ongoing battle with dementia was getting worse.

After sitting down for a meeting with her siblings and engaging in several tense conversations about where Rebecca would live, Kate announced that she would move her mom to Los Angeles to live with her and Phillip (Chris Geere). But Kevin had other ideas and proposed that Rebecca stay in the home he had built for her and where she had been living with Miguel.

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He and Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) would move in instead and receive help from Madison (Caitlin Thompson) and Elijah (Adam Korson), who planned to relocate to the East Coast with her and Kevin's twins, as well as Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) and his girlfriend Edie (Vanessa Bell Calloway). Kate ultimately agreed to the idea as the family continued to pitch in and help Rebecca until her final days.

Below, Metz talks to PEOPLE about her view on the Pearson family meeting, Kate's growth throughout the episode and what to expect for next week.

Chrissy Metz as Kate, Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us
Chrissy Metz as Kate and Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

PEOPLE: Talk to me about Kate's growth in this episode and how she steps into this newfound confidence as it relates to her family and her brothers.

CHRISSY METZ: So much of who she has become really informs how she's going to approach any situation. In the way her and Toby have gone through a lot, the words her mom spoke about living a life for herself, and because she has had so much guilt and shame about her father's death and the people that she's chosen in her past, Kate is finally able to have confidence in herself because she has trust in herself.

Sometimes you have to have someone trust and believe in you before you do that. I think her dad did, Toby did, and then when her mom [chose her as primary caretaker], I think it really bolstered her. She was like, "Yeah, you know what? I am more powerful and more intelligent and trustworthy," and all of these things — more than she's ever given herself credit for.

She finally gets to be the unsung hero because she's never felt confident enough to stick with a decision. That's a really hard thing to carry with you through your entire life, and so I think she's really coming into her own, and it starts with the way that she's going to make sure her mom gets taken care of.

What was it about that support from Toby, in particular, that made Kate feel empowered?

He knows Kate in a different way than her own siblings or her mother know her. He's seen her through so many different decisions always getting bulldozed, or nobody thinks her decision's the right one, or being unsteady and unsure. But he knows who she really is, and she's never had that confidence to speak up. I think it was really beautiful and tender. When you love somebody, you always love them. You always want to support them. And for him to do that from afar is just very telling of their relationship and the way he understands her.

Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us
Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate, and Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Throughout the episode, there are several scenes where Rebecca caring for the Big Three as kids is paired against them caring for her in present day. Why was it so important to show those moments side by side?

This show has always been so brilliant about showing [how] as we age, and our parents age, we experience all of these beautiful moments in our lives. It's so bittersweet that our parents teach us, through the way that they care for us, how eventually to care for them — if we're lucky enough.

It's just so beautiful to see that as much as we needed our parents, they need us as they age. There's something so tender and human and real about that. Because we know, unfortunately, that we're all going to age. But we don't talk about it, and we don't see it done with such dignity all the time, which is really important. No one wants to have a conversation of "How do you want to be taken care of if this is what should happen?" This show has always brought so much to the surface, and if people are willing and ready to have those conversations, it's all-encompassing.

Isabella Rose Landau as Kate, Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us
Isabella Rose Landau as young Kate and Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Do you think that Kate is genuinely happy with the decision to keep Rebecca in the house? She initially said they were going to move her to L.A., but then, in a way, her brothers run the show again.

Exactly! I was pissed. Kate's made a decision, she's adamant about it. She knows what she's doing, and then she's like, "Really, guys? I finally feel confident, and then you're going to overstep?" But I think that because Madison and Elijah, and Edie and Nicky, and obviously Sophie and Kevin being there, they have this whole other journey of life that they want to take together. You can't get in the way of what's best. Any parent will want to have all of their children involved. Kate has to just remind herself it's not about her. It's really about the greater good for Rebecca.

When Randall says Rebecca always knew what each of the Big Three needed, what do you think Kate particularly needed and got from her mom growing up and into her adulthood?

I think it's love — unconditional love, in a sense of no judgment. Kate always took it personally that she never measured up to her mom. And of course, sons want to be their fathers, daughters want to be their mothers. But ultimately, she realized that she's loved, no matter what she decides to do, to wear, to look like, to weigh, any of those things. That's all we all want, is just for our families to be in acceptance of who we truly are.

Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Justin Hartley as Kevin in This Is Us
Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Chrissy Metz as Kate and Justin Hartley as Kevin in This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

At one point during the episode, teenage Kate tells her mom, "You got two winners and one dud." Is part of the reason why Kate is so intentional about her mom's care because she wants to make her proud, and, in a way, become that third "winner" she thinks she never was?

I think her mother and father saw that aspect of her, but she never saw it. It was just in Kate's own time. It wasn't that she was a dud. She is a different person in a different journey and relationships than her other siblings. Everybody's journey is different, and everybody has their own roads to walk. And that really instructs her in how she moves through her life. With the boys, if they did have any guilt about their father's death, they didn't hold onto it for very long. Kate always did for so long, and it just really crushed her.

What do you hope viewers take away from the scene where Kate tells her brothers to really look their mom and has them do her hair and lotion?

When Kate has to step up to the plate, and the boys can't see their mother in that way and she has to be the strong one, it really just shows that she's always been the glue that has held the Big Three together. Having two alpha males makes it very difficult to navigate but she's always been the mediator and the voice of reason for the right reason. It's so special that she was able to help the guys see their mother in the way that she was now. It's a really difficult thing to do.

I know personally, when my mom went through a medical emergency four and a half years ago, you literally have to look at your parent as a new person. That is a really, really tough pill to swallow. And if they haven't been around her as much as Kate had been around her, it's a real shock to the system.

Chrissy Metz as Kate, Justin Hartley as Kevin, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us
Chrissy Metz as Kate, Justin Hartley as Kevin, Mandy Moore as Rebecca and Sterling K. Brown as Randall in This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Because you've gone through it yourself, how much of this episode was you channeling your own experiences and emotions?

Oh, I was definitely channeling my own experience. I always say that it's my mom, but I lost a part of the mother that I knew, because she's been so changed by what she's gone through. And that's the thing — in the soul and spirit of the person who might be going through the diagnosis, they're still the same person, but you have to approach it in a different manner.

There's so much fear around that, because [people wonder], "Am I doing it right? Should I still talk to them the same way? Should I still handle it the same way?" And until there's some understanding or education around the diagnosis, you don't really know how to approach the situation. There's no handbook.

For Kate to have to nudge her brothers in a real way is very powerful for everybody. You just need somebody, like Kate, to say, "Hey, it's okay. She's still Mom. She still needs you. She still wants you near. It's just going to be different than you know."

Mandy Moore said the next episode made her throw up when she read the script. What was your reaction to the episode and what can fans expect for next week?

I think it is one of the most beautiful episodes of any television show anybody will ever watch, especially culminating six years of this beautiful journey. I'm getting emotional talking about it.

The way that Dan [Fogelman] has orchestrated what is going to take place is so cool and so beautiful and so fulfilling, but also so progressive. It's very special. I remember reading it and Bradley, my boyfriend, was like, "Are you okay? Can you breathe?" And I'm like, "Not really." So without giving too much away, I just think it's absolutely exceptional.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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